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COVID economy: California unemployment claims rocket higher

Unemployment claims in California rocketed to their highest level in three months, topping 145,000 filings last week, the government reported Thursday, marking a grim setback for the battered job market statewide.

California workers filed 145,400 initial claims for unemployment during the week that ended on April 3, an increase of 39,000 from the 106,400 jobless claims workers filed the prior week, the U.S. Labor Department said.

Nationwide, jobless claims totaled 744,000 during the week ending on April 3, up 16,000 from the week before, according to the Labor Department report.

California now accounts for 19.6% — about one out of every five — of the jobless claims being filed in the entire United States, this news organization’s analysis of the Labor Department report shows.

The current weekly claims totals in California are the highest they have been since the week ending Jan. 9, when workers filed 182,600 initial jobless claims.

Michael Bernick, an employment attorney with law firm Duane Morris and a former director of the state Employment Development Department, has analyzed filings from the EDD and California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley and UCLA to analyze why the statewide jobless claims remain sky-high.

“Over 75% of the initial claims are ‘additional claims’, meaning that the claimant initially filed a claim, then became employed, only to become unemployed again within the period of the benefit year,” Bernick said.

California’s worrisome unemployment trends suggest that the statewide labor market remains far from healthy, despite robust gains in non-farm payroll jobs that the EDD reported for February.

“This high percentage of ‘additional claims’ indicates ongoing instability and a high number of layoffs,” Bernick said. “Businesses bring back employees, only to find that the business revenue is not sufficient to sustain employment.”




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